As a member of the Armenian minority in Turkey, the notions of displacement
and invisibility become key elements in my work. In my thesis project “Void”, I
am exploring my struggle with this issue by visualizing notions of the
displacement, the loss of identity and the absence or disappearance of the
culture through images that emphasize these notions through the evocation and
depiction of studio space.
My main inspiration in this project is the archive of Maryam Sahinyan, an
Armenian studio photographer, a woman who worked for almost 50 years
(1937 – 1985) in the heart of Istanbul. I focus on her studio space and think of it
as a recorder of personal memories, as well as of social and political events that
led to corruption in the culture and threatened the existence of the minorities
In my work I select images from the archive and remove the figures in them. All
that remains is the setting that the people were photographed in. Sahinyan’s
studio, as a physical entity, functioning as an ambiguous area between public
and private, becomes a hidden stage, where anyone might perform their
identity for the camera.
While I remove Sahinyan’s subjects from the original photographs they are
transported back and fragmented into my abstract reinterpretations of those
studio settings. In these works the abstracted studio space becomes a dramatic
vehicle for exploring presence through absence. In both parts of this project I
aim to visualize the idea of loss and disruption, which defines the Armenian
experience in Turkey.